Manston: processing centre in Kent now empty as migrants moved to new accommodation

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The government had faced criticism over conditions at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent

The Manston migrant processing centre is now empty, according to reports. It comes after the government faced criticism over conditions and overcrowding at the centre.

It is understood the facility remains open and will continue to be used as needed to carry out initial checks on migrants as more arrive. While, it was revealed on Sunday that a man had died in hospital after falling ill at the processing centre but the circumstances of his death are not yet known.

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Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said on Monday that the number of migrants at Manston stood at roughly 300 – and was expected to fall further – following a high of more than 4,000. The centre was designed to hold 1,600.

He had suggested the number was expected to drop as “as more people move on to other accommodation”, saying: “There’s been a huge effort over the last two or three weeks to reduce the population of the site from over 4,000 to where it is today.”

“It’s functioning as it should be now, which is as a short-term processing unit where people’s security details like their biometrics are taken, and then they’re removed as quickly as possible and sent on to other accommodation.”

What have the migrants at Manston gone to?

The holding site in Kent for people who have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel has been cleared, with everyone who was there now moved into hotels, Home Office sources confirmed.

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Manston has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks as those staying there are meant to be at the site for only short periods of time while undergoing security and identity checks.

However, some people had been held for longer stretches due to a lack of alternative accommodation, with concerns raised over poor conditions. There had also been a number of diptheria cases at the centre. The Home Office previously said it was working alongside the UKHSA and NHS to provide vaccines against the disease, and that the number of migrants affected at Manston was “very small”

Concerns about living conditions and overcrowding at Manston migrant processing facility have been growing over the past few days. Credit: Getty ImagesConcerns about living conditions and overcrowding at Manston migrant processing facility have been growing over the past few days. Credit: Getty Images
Concerns about living conditions and overcrowding at Manston migrant processing facility have been growing over the past few days. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

On Tuesday, Sky News reported that the Prime Minister’s spokesman said Manston is meant to be a temporary holding facility where people are moved on “often fairly quickly”.

He said numbers spiked when another centre was set on fire so migrants from there had to be moved to Manston, and said: “You would expect numbers to be relatively low on a daily basis.”

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What has been said about the immigration system?

Support groups had called for “urgent action” to overhaul the immigration system following the death of a man after falling ill at Manston. It is understood that he arrived in the UK as part of a small boat crossing on 12 November. He is believed to have been taken ill on Friday evening.

A post-mortem examination was due to be carried out and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been notified. The Home Office said there was “no evidence at this stage to suggest that this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease”.

Care4Calais founder Clare Moseley said: “Our condolences are with the family and friends of this man. “Refugees we are supporting who have recently been released from Manston have told us they were denied access to doctors and medication. We continue to have concerns about the health facilities at the centre.” Freedom From Torture, which provides psychological support to asylum seekers, called for a “compassionate asylum system”.

While Inquest, which supports bereaved families following a death in state care, has called for an independent investigation into the death and an overhaul of the system. It posted: “It feels as if it was only a matter of time before a death like this happened in this completely closed facility. We need urgent action on Manston, independent investigation of this death & an overhaul of this inhumane immigration system.”

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